Sony's Blu-Ray: A Marketing 50 Case Study

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Photo: Tony Pettinato
This has been the year of Blu-ray. Not just for the high-definition movie players but for the entire technical specification. Early in 2008, the high-def war that made consumers sit on the sidelines -- and made industry insiders cringe -- was won by Blu-ray when enough movie studios finally tipped the scale in favor of the Sony-created format.

By the end of September, 6.5 million Blu-ray players had been sold, up 160% from a year earlier. Even more telling is Sony's prediction that by New Year's Eve, there will be a Blu-ray player in 25% of high-definition households, or about 12.5 million.

Chris Fawcett, 38, VP-marketing of the Home Products Division at Sony Electronics, refers to Blu-ray's history in three phases: launch, wartime and expansion. "Wartime" was that period in which two technologies for high-def disc playing and viewing -- Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD -- were fighting it out.

Now, with the battle over, "We're looking for a big holiday," he says.

Expect the marketing push for this holiday to follow in last year's footsteps of collaborating with other Sony divisions including Computer Entertainment, Music and Pictures to create bundles of goods and services.

Blu-ray has been part of Sony's "HDNA" campaign, via 180, Los Angeles, touting its HD technology and products. The format also has gotten support from studios trumpeting Blu-ray in ads for their DVDs. Several studios and consumer-electronics companies are backing a $25 million holiday push for Blu-ray.

"What [Sony Corp. of America CEO Howard Stringer] wants to do is bring it all together under the banner of Sony United," Mr. Fawcett says. "Blu-ray was the articulation of that strategy almost perfectly. ... Blu-ray is a new technology, but it showed us that all the parts of the company can come together and find something meaningful for all."
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